Alabama IVF ruling is the first step toward autocratic theocracy

By Rich Heiland, Columnist, The Times

Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are living children is a cruel blow to women and families, but it’s even worse than that…

The decision makes it clear once and for all what the Republican Party of Donald Trump wants – not just an autocracy but an autocratic theocracy. If this decision stands and spreads it will gut the First Amendment.

THE ALABAMA SUPREME COURT has just shouted out what the position of the Republican Party is when it comes not just to women but to the ultimate goal of the party – to create a theocracy to rule over the United States. It is a goal the Founding Fathers not only did not support but sought to protect the new nation from in the First Amendment.

To be sure, the Alabama ruling in LePage etal ruling that an embryo, frozen in a tube, is real, living human being is a savage blow not just to women but to families seeking to have children in the only way they can. Because of this ruling any harm that befalls an embryo, intended or not, in the state of Alabama may well be viewed as murder.

(You can see the entire opinion here:

It is bad law that seeks to support its legal positions by going back into the 1800s when abortion existed only in back alleys and embryos were not discussed at all. But it is not the legal citations that should cause alarm.

Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker

To see the real threat to our nation in this decision, you have to delve into the concurrence written by Chief Justice Tom Parker to support the 7-2 decision.

The ruling is based on Alabama’s “wrongful death” law, which goes back to the 1872. All states have such a law, though wording may vary. What this decision does is to expand definitions of wrongful death to not just the unborn but to that which cannot be born without the help of science – the implantation of an embryo into a uterus.

Parker starts out noting the Alabama Constitution, as amended in 2018 as a result of anti-abortion campaigning, stated that the “sanctity of life” required protection of unborn children and their rights.” Since the Constitution does define what sanctity of life is, Parker veers off into a search for the definition of sanctity that relies almost exclusively on the Bible and a 17th Century Dutch theologian, Petrus Van Mastrich.

Parker cites several other theologians to make the point that if man is created in the image of God then taking of any life basically constitute destroying God. He cites anti-abortion writings and rulings about when life begins to make the leap to a frozen embryo being viable life that images God.

Writes Parker – “ People of Alabama encompasses the following: (1) God made every person in His image; (2) each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and (3) human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself. Section 36.06 recognizes that this is true of unborn human life no less than it is of all other human life — that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

It would be easy to dismiss Parker as a fringe figure, but it would be wrong. Fringe or not he presides over the highest court in Alabama and left unchallenged (or affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court) this decision well could appear in multiple Republican-dominated states.

So, who is Parker? He is a protégé of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore who gained national fame for ordering the Ten Commandments displayed in public buildings across the state. Parker, in 2004 as a judicial candidate, handed out Confederate flags at the funeral of a Confederate widow. He also appeared with known white supremacists. He has listed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas among his heroes.

As far back as 2014 he was gaining attention as a first-term sitting justice. An article by Nina Martin in Propublica talks about a right-wing conference Parker attended. Parker told the assemblage that “the very God of Holy Scriptures, the Creator, is the source of law, liberty and life.”

He told attendees that “It’s the judges who have legalized abortion and homosexualilty…they are shaking the very foundation of our society.” When it comes to parental rights, he told the conference “God, not the state, has granted parents the authority and responsibility to govern their children. Parents should be able to do so unfettered by state interference.”

Recently Parker appeared on a radio show with Johnny Enlow, who is considered a “QAnon prophet.” According to Right Wing Watch Enlow has said:

  • Donald Trump “is on assignment from God” to work with the angels Michael and Gabriel to take down George Soros and Bill Gates, among others;
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is fighting “Lucifarian pedophiles” in Ukraine who want to deploy various vaccines and other invasive processes around the world to turn people into “transhumanist semi-robots;’
  • A majority of world leaders are “satanic pedophiles” who “steal blood” and “do sacrifices.”
  • “Heaven is speaking to us and telling us a message, who is really president who is really under the authority of heaven. The Lord said, ‘Your nation will be known as before Trump and after Trump, the whole world will be known as before Trump, after Trump.’”

On the show Parker said he supports the “Seven Mountains Mandate” and praised Enlow for his support of it. The mandate says Christians must control the “seven mountains” of society – education, media, religion, family, business, entertainment and government. This control is needed to pave the way for Christ’s return.

Parker told Enlow “God is equipping me with something for the very specific situation that I’m facing” as the Alabama chief justice.

While, as I said at the beginning, this decision is absurd on its face, and cruel to women and families, its real threat is ultimately to our democracy. It is a decision that says all that needs to be said about why radical Christians support Donald Trump and what the agenda of the Republican Party is.

Autocracy? Certainly. But at its base, an autocratic theocracy. If this is not enough to rally independents, Democrats and anyone who values freedom, I don’t know what would.

Rich Heiland, has been a reporter, editor, publisher/general manager at daily papers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and New Hampshire. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Xenia Daily (OH) Daily Gazette, a National Newspaper Association Columnist of the Year, and a recipient of the Molly Ivins First Amendment Award from the Walker County (TX) Democrat Club. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University and leadership and community development at Woodbury College in Vermont.  Since 1995 he has operated an international consulting, public speaking and training business specializing in customer service, general management, leadership and staff development with major corporations, organizations, and government. Semi-retired, he and his wife live in West Chester, PA. He can be reached at


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